Waste or mistakes never happen in a farm kitchen.....only future animal or plant food.

August 28, 2010

Blackberries and Sour Cream

 We managed to pick a few gallons of blackberries this year from the local u-pick.  We ate some and froze the rest.  Blackberries don't lend themselves to our usual "berries & milk" dish like strawberries do.  The milk makes them taste bland for some reason.   They are enhanced, on the other hand, by sour cream.


Fresh or frozen blackberries
Real sour cream (should only have 1 ingredient)
Cane sugar (whole cane lends a nice caramel flavor)
Cream of tartar
Pinch of unrefined salt

Mix the sugar and cream of tartar together 1/4 tsp to 1 TBS of sugar and the salt.  Sprinkle over the berries  with a dollop of sour cream or mix with sour cream  and mix into berries like a fruit salad.  I used equal parts sugar to sour cream, about 2 TBS of each for a cup of berries.  Fabulous!

This post part of Two for Tuesday Real Food Blog Hop,   Tuesday Twister

August 26, 2010

Beauty, Simplicity, Sustainability........an Orchid

Another new beginning....

My mother gave this to me about 5 years ago.  The first year I think it had a single flower and fit in its pot quite nicely.  As you can see, it will have 4 blooms on one stalk this year.  What you may not see is the other buds forming on the "leaf" in the back right of the picture.  I am eagerly anticipating the continuous display.

I've never had an orchid live over a year before, much less actually rebloom.  This sits in the "dead" space behind my kitchen sink.  The window on the left faces south, the window on the right faces west.  I have heavy duty, cream colored duette (double hexagon) shades on both windows which help reduce the sun in the summer and slow the cold air flow in the winter.  We open the windows when we can, but this summer has been a marathon of continuous hot and humid weather.  I water when I remember...usually when I see wrinkled leaves. I mist in the winter, but rarely water, with my little old fashioned brass mister.  It gives a very fine spray.  I leave dirty dishes in my sink for too long too often.  (That must be the secret, yes?)  I did purchase some fertilizer one year after I realized it wasn't going to die on me. It's still sitting in the basement in the bag it came in.  Now, I'm afraid to use it for fear of messing it up.  I think it's happy, what do you think?

Sept 5th 2010

UPDATE:  Here it is, one stalk in full bloom...glorious!

August 25, 2010

Cold Cocktail (antiviral)

At the first hint of a cold or flu or if you know you're going to get exposed to something...airplane, sick kids etc.

Mix 2 TBS ACV (apple cider vinegar) with a little water or juice and add 1/2-1 tsp baking soda and drink immediately....while still bubbling.  Do this 4x/day the first day, 3x/day the second and 2x, then 1x per day until kicked.  Don't stop just because you feel better or you can relapse, finish the cycle.  Kinda like antibiotics, continue for a few days after symptoms are gone.

I did this myself when I had a cough/deep lung thing starting.  I didn't care for the taste unless I used a little maple syrup, but it worked wonderfully!

Oh...and use a TALL glass.... ;)

This worked well for cold sores too.
I've started taking some once/day (sometimes in the middle of the night) just because.  I think it's helping keep my core body temperature up.

Pennywise Platter Thursday
Simple Lives Thursday 
Home Remedies Carnival

August 19, 2010

Gone off the deep end.....homemade laundry soap

I haven't purchased laundry detergent in YEARS.  I am just now reaching the bottom of 2 boxes of commercial size laundry detergent.  Yeah, that's a lot of loads.

I have read about people making their own soap for a while now, but have just not been interested.  I didn't see the point and didn't quite realize just how significant the savings really was.  I like my current brand, it is biodegradeable, it works, it's cheaper than store bought.  Most "natural" cleaning products I had experience with in the past were...disappointing...to put it nicely.  However, this year is different...cash flow is a challenge, so my priorities have undergone some readjustment.

After doing some research, it turns out I already had all the ingredients I needed to try it...no "flow" necessary....a good thing!

Grating by hand...about 15 minutes

1 or 2 parts soap 
1 part baking soda
1 part Borax (optional)

That's it.  
I used 1/2 cup of hand grated Kirk's castille soap about 1 quarter of the bar or 1 oz, because that's what I had in the cupboard.  I would have used more, but I got tired of grating.  You can use a food processor if you have one, just cut or slice it into smaller pieces first.  The soap is the most expensive ingredient here, so use what is available in your area and is compatible with your skin/nose needs....or homemade, if you've got it.  Avoid soaps with added moisturizers and such as they can leave spots on clothing.

I added about a 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer "Rumen Buffer" (larger granule baking soda) and 1/2 cup of  20 Mule Team Borax that I had on hand as a supplemental fertilizer.  I decided that there wasn't enough difference between washing soda and baking soda to warrant buying it special.  Apparently, you can convert baking soda to washing soda by heating the baking soda.  Maybe it would make a difference if I only washed in cold water?

Finished product...24-48 loads!
I estimated the cost of the baking soda (50 lb bag from the feed store) at $.05, the borax at less than $.25 and the soap at $.32 for the batch.  I don't remember how much I paid for the borax and soap, so I guessed and rounded up.  The recommended dose is 1-2 tablespoons per load, so a 1 1/2 cup batch is $.62 for 24 or 48 loads or $.013-$.026 per load.

I wanted something that actually WORKED, not just something cheap or "natural," so I tested this on my toughest stuff first...the barn clothes!  I loaded my front loader with 2 pair of overalls (one dirty stiff and one with buck stink) plus my barn washcloths and other assorted rags.  I washed in warm water with a cold water rinse.  I used 1 rounded TBS of soap and my "softener" dispenser holds about 2 TBS of vinegar.  I used a rounded TBS because I didn't have anything to scrap the top with...since it didn't come out of a box.

The laundry came out at least as clean as my other stuff, so definitely takes the dirt out.  I will have to pay attention if I wash anything with blood or milk....since there no "enzyme" action.  Who knows, maybe that's just marketing?

If you want to make liquid soap, you can use the same ingredients plus heated water.  This blog has great step by step pictures.

UPDATE: I was at the local grocery store today and checked pricing on Washing Soda and Fels Naptha soap. Washing soda was 5x the price of the baking soda and the Fels Naptha was the same as the Kirk's but was a slightly bigger bar and had a VERY strong odor.

This post part of
Simple Lives Thursday 
Make It From Scratch

August 15, 2010

Potatoes anyway you like...as long as they're FRIED

Diced, fried potatoes
We're finally expecting a break from this weeks long heat wave.  It was a little cooler this morning than it's been in a while, only 76*, so fried potatoes are coming back to the menu.

To say that we like potatoes in our house, would be an understatement.  We like them fried, mashed, hot, cold, baked, scalloped, fried, sliced, diced, fried...you get the picture.

I used to think they were junky, of little nutritional value....like Wonder bread.  I was wrong.  According to www.nutritiondata.com, a potato has a complete protein profile, like an egg.  A large potato will have 7.5 grams of protein, a large egg has 6.3 grams of protein.  Add some good fat, like coconut oil, butter,  or sour cream and you have a complete meal all by itself.  (A sweet potato is lower in lysine and not quite as balanced.)

The wonderful thing about potatoes is they are so versatile.  You can make fried potatoes, french fries or potatoes chips just by changing the way you cut the potato and varying the length of frying time.   I use a SS wok with a narrow base and wide mouth.  It needs a slightly higher temp (MED) than if you used a larger burner. (MED/LOW)  Coconut oil lends itself to crispiness without high heat. When I am done frying and have scooped out all the food, I let it cool, cover with a lid and just set it aside for the next time.  I can reuse it over and over without it going rancid.

For fried potatoes, you can heat the coconut oil while dicing or slicing the potato into bite size pieces. Starting temperature of the oil is flexible...just cook until tender and add a good, unrefined salt.  I'm partial to a larger grind on my fried potatoes.

For french fries cut lengthwise to whatever thickness you prefer. Make sure the oil is already at temp before adding the potatoes CAREFULLY.  When they float, they are done.  Remove with a wide, flat, strainer  and add salt to taste.

For potato chips, slice very thin.  We've used a potato peeler quite successfully.  The end result was almost identical to a "Kettle Chip" brand potato chip.  Add salt to taste.  There's is no picture because if I left the room to get my camera, they would be GONE!

ENJOY!....and don't forget to CHEW!

This post part of
Make it Yourself Monday 
Two for Tuesdays 
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy
Real Food Wednesday 
Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Pennywise Platter Thursday

If you wouldn't put it in your mouth, DON'T put in on your skin.......

Getting Clean
I, personally, am not a fan of fads, gurus, being "chic" etc.  I am a "stick in the mud."  So it is with some hesitation that I admit I've gone "no poo".  (There has GOT to be a better term than "no poo.")  Yup, I wash my hair, face and non tender body parts with baking soda from the feed store and rinse with cheap (less than $5/gallon), but real, apple cider vinegar (beware of ACV flavored distilled vinegar).  I don't use distilled vinegar anymore because a lot of it is made from GMO corn.

I didn't want to ditch shampoo, conditioner and my pretty smelling soaps.  I spent HOURS looking at ingredients of  "natural" shampoos and soaps.  There are a few bar soaps out there that come close,  Kirk's coconut soap, for example...but NOT for my hair.  I did try it though, along with some others, they leave a residue.

baking soda and vinegar
I fill my recycled cobalt blue colored plastic mineral bottle 1/2 to 3/4 full of baking soda, add water and shake.  I use what I need and leave the rest until next time.  If it gets too thick, I just add more water.  There are no emulsifying agents, so I shake every time I use it.  I have found it useful,  more than once, to have different shaped bottles for the BS and ACV.  Sometimes you need to FEEL the difference between bottles, if you know what I mean.

I start by GENTLY rubbing it on my face, edge of hair, neck, behind the ears etc., then  my scalp and arms and so on.  I rub the actual hair at the end of the process with what ever is left on my hands, IF it needs it.   I rinse everything off and rinse with the vinegar...I use it straight, but it can be diluted if desired.  It will make your hair feel soft, really soft.  Part of that is going to be your hair and part of it your hands being softened and without residue.

If a body part is still odorous after a once over with baking soda, I will use soap.  The BS is a little rough for scrubbing purposes.

It took a few weeks to finally get rid of the old soap off my hair...especially after all the experiments.  Some of the natural products I tried left a nasty, shellac type residue on my hair.  Ewwww.

One of the extra benefits of using BS and ACV is saving money.... a lot of money.  The BS from the feed store is slightly less than $.20/lb in a 50 lb bag.  It's called "rumen buffer" and is a larger grain that found at a grocery store for cooking.  I can get grocery store size BS in a 50 lb bag for  $.43/lb.  The local stores run about $1-$1.10/lb for BS, still cheaper than commercial shampoos.

The OTHER extra benefit of using BS and vinegar is the shower will NOT get clogged with soap build up.  I really like no having to worry about maintaining the drain.

UPDATE Nov 29th 2010:  I use baking soda WATER now.  I put a little baking soda paste/slurry in my bottle and fill the bottle with warm water to at least half way.  There's very little grit this way.  I soak my wet head with the soft water and let sit for a minute.  The BS water saponifies the oil on my head and then I rub my scalp and hair then rinse. Then I soak with diluted ACV about 1/4 ACV to 3/4 water.  I let sit for a minute and then rinse.   Washing the rest of the body with the BS water works a lot better now.  Some places still need an extra pass or two. ; )

Deodorizing and Moisturizing
I finish up my showering with a full body application of coconut oil.  I indulge in a little vanity here and use the more expensive, sweet smelling virgin coconut oil. I get it in BULK (about $2.50/lb) to save money.  It keeps indefinitely, doesn't go bad, so I don't have to worry about wasting it.  I little goes a long way.  I use a pea size amount for my face and neck and twice that for each pit.  The rest of my body gets a couple 2 finger scoops spread as evenly as I can.  The pits get an dusting of BS for deodorizing and I'm done and ready to get on with the day.

The body will absorb the coconut oil through the skin.  For those that have trouble digesting or getting enough coconut oil, this is a wonderful way to "eat" it.  I had been using it on my face for a few months before I started using it over my whole body.  I dropped 5 lbs when I went full body and continue to lose weight when I am diligent about it.  I find using it on my face and arms at night before bed helps me sleep better as well....when I remember to do it.

Home Remedies Carnival

August 9, 2010

Orange "Julius", "Creamsicle" and Summer Eggnog

Some times it's too hot to cook and almost too hot to eat......on those days,  I like to make Orange "Julius"...a rich, nourishing, COLD meal in a glass.

Make your own rehydrating "Energy" drink

Refreshing "Energy" drink
Here is the "Energy" beverage I drink at least a pint of every day.

Pickled Beets

Beets are at their peak right now and are the lowest in price of the season if your are buying them.
We LOVE pickled beets in our house...straight out of the jar.  They are tasty with other things too, like carrots and olive oil or onions or potato salad or whatever...but sometimes the jar is emptied from nibbling while the more elaborate adventures are being prepared.

ACV (apple cider vinegar, preferably raw and unfiltered)
Unrefined Sea Salt
Sugar (optional)
Cream of Tartar (1/4 tsp per TBS if using sugar)

I put the whole beets (just the greens removed, keeping the root intact) in a SS pressure cooker with a little trivet or something to prevent direct contact with the bottom.  (This and cranberry relish is all I use my pressure cooker for now a days.)  Add a little water to the bottom.  You want steam, not beets IN the water.  Cook at 15 lbs of pressure for 10-15 minutes depending on size of beets and remove from heat.  When it has cooled down and the pressure is gone, I remove the lid and let the beets cool.

When they are cool enough to handle, I remove the skins by cutting the stem and root off and "wiping."  Sometimes I have to help  the removal with a small paring knife, but not often.  When the skins are removed, I either quarter the beets or slice in the Cuisinart...depending on my mood.  I stick the cut beets in jars and pour in the ACV with salt and sugar.  These will keep in the fridge for a VERY long time.  Months at least, maybe longer...they've always been eaten before they've spoiled.  They might be fine in a cool basement without canning, but I've never tried.

We save the pickle juice for soaking baby carrots.  They turn a weird purple, but they are tasty for nibble food.

This post part of Tuesday Twister

August 6, 2010

Gluten Free "Potato Flour" Chocolate Chip Cookies

GF "Potato Flour" Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from same box of potato flour as the brownies.)

2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sucanat or whole cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup rice flour
3 TBS potato flour
2 tsp homemade baking powder
Pinch of unrefined salt
1 cup lecithin free chocolate chips (I LOVE 70% dark chocolate in this recipe)

preheat oven to 375*F

Beat eggs and blend in sugar and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients separately and then add to wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips (or substitute broken pieces of a 70% chocolate bar or 2.) Drop from spoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes.

I LOVE coconut oil...but I don't think it substitutes well in this recipe.

Gluten Free "Potato Flour" Brownies

Adapted from a recipe on the back of a Ener-G potato flour box.

GF "Potato Flour" Brownies
(These really should be called rice flour brownies...but oh well)

Add ingredients one by one, mixing/beating thoroughly before adding the next ingredient.

4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (originally melted butter, but I prefer the oil in this case.)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS gelatin (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS potato flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups sucanat or whole cane sugar
1 cup rice flour (brown or white)
3 tsp homemade baking powder
pinch of unrefined salt

1/4-1/2 cup coffee beans or chocolate chips (optional)

Bake in greased 9"x13" cake pan for 35-40 minutes @ 350*F.  Preheat if using a standard size oven, not necessary if using a toaster oven. Cut into squares. Pan size doesn't have to be exact, a smaller pan will make a thicker brownie......and fits in my toaster oven better.

A brownie with a glass of milk makes an awesome snack...or light meal even for To-Go food.

August 5, 2010

Gelatin Fruit "Custard"

I LOVE this recipe...you can alter the ingredients to make it for a snack/meal or make it down right decadent for a dessert. I use the gummy candy recipe with orange juice (not from concentrate) for a base. I use either a large pyrex casserole dish with a lid if I am making it for home consumption or smaller individual sized glass pyrex with lids for traveling. I am particularly fond of sliced peaches or strawberries, but have also used cherries, blackberries and blueberries.

Depending on the natural sweetness of your fruit, you may need to supplement with sugar and cream of tartar. A commercial peach might need 1-3 TBS of additional sugar/cream of tartar to equal the taste of a tree ripened peach off your own tree. Rapadura/Sucanat doesn't work well in this recipe because of the color and not dissolving well before it sets.

Layer fruit in the bottom of a dish (or dishes)
Sprinkle with pinch of unrefined salt
Sprinkle with OG sugar/cream of tartar mix as needed (1/4 tsp CT/TBS sugar)
Cover fruit with WARM gummy base
Add fresh milk or cream while stirring gently
You can include a dash of vanilla extract, if desired.

If you use frozen fruit, some of the gelatin will solidify faster than the rest making for some variation in textures that can be quite good. I use my own milk from my own animals in this recipe and like to preserve the enzymes by keeping it less than 118*, hence the emphasis on warm vs hot gummy base. This would apply to the fruit as well if it's raw vs canned.

August 3, 2010

Gummy Candy-NO CORN SYRUP!

Last fall, I started trying to add more gelatin to my diet, so did a search for corn syrup free gummy worms. I found something I liked at The Frugal Kiwi

I have since played with and modified the original recipe to my needs. Here is it's current incarnation....

Gummy Candy

3-4 cups fruit juice
1/2-1 cup cane sugar
2-4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup gelatin (1 cup = 16 TBS)
Dab of coconut oil
Pinch of salt

Fruit Juice concentrate (optional, but intensifies the fruit flavor)

Mix sugar and gelatin together, then add to cool juice. Less liquid will give a chewier "bite" but will also make it harder for the gelatin to dissolve...it's a fine balance. Give it time to absorb, about 1-2 minutes at least....more if using less liquid. Heat on low or medium and stir frequently. When the liquid is clear, not cloudy, then you can pour into greased molds. I used coconut oil....or you can just melt the oil into the gelatin. When I used ice cube trays, the recipe overflowed the trays a little, meaning the cubes ended up being all connected. That was good though, because it helped to get them out when they were cool. I now use a lasagna or boiler pan and slice into 16 strips or cubes so I know how many TBS of gelatin I am getting. Thin strips seems to have a better "bite" than thicker cubes, but it tastes good either way. : )

I have used OJ, Pomegranate & Lime, Cherry, Cranberry etc. for juices and they are all yummy. Some are naturally sweeter or thicker than others, hence the variation in sugar and liquid. Play with it, there are no rules....except to make sure there are no clumps BEFORE you heat the juice...or you will spend FOREVER trying to get them out later.

Someday......you know, when I'm rolling in extra funds......I'd like to get some molds for gummy candy making. I made one, ONCE, out of foil on my wire cooling rack. It made wonderful, thin, long "worms." It took longer to make the mold than to make the gummies and the foil was too delicate and tore in a few spots while I was taking them out, so NOT reusable.  Bummer.      

Edited to add:  The cream of tartar adds extra "tart" which my taste buds like and extra potassium, which my body likes.  You can ramp it up or down, as needed.                                                                   

Homemade Baking Powder

Back in the "good ol' days" before packaged baked goods and breads, people made their own baking powder. The individual ingredient are shelf stable in air tight containers and will last for a very long time. Once mixed however, they react quickly, so just make enough for your current recipe and add at the end. 1 part baking soda 1 or 2 parts cream of tartar You can use 1 part cream of tartar if you have another acid in the recipe, like sour milk or lemon juice, sour cream cookies come to mind, and 2 parts cream of tartar if you don't....like chocolate chip cookies. I use the 2 to 1 ratio when substituting for baking powder in most recipes. Making your own baking powder will save money and help to avoid harmful additives like aluminum and cornstarch (most likely GMO).

Real Cornbread-gluten free

1 cup corn masa (white or blue or OG)
(Blue corn masa turns pinkish when cooked)
1 cup milk, kefir, buttermilk, or clabber
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS sucanat (optional)
1/2 tsp Homemade Baking Powder 
Coconut oil/butter for sides of pan

Mix and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick (inserted) comes
out clean. I use my toaster oven for this recipe, it's small. Serve with large chunks of butter.

Whole Foods for the Holidays